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Preschool teachers disappointed after being left out of COVID-19 vaccination plan

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jan 13, 2021

LOGAN, Utah — The Stokes Nature Center Preschool has been open since fall of last year.

Every day 30 students pour into the classrooms of the school and every day teachers teach within the CDC guidelines in order to keep kids and themselves safe.

When then Governor Gary Herbert announced that teachers and educators would be among the first vaccinated, the school rejoiced.

“That was a huge relief to us to know that there’s kind of this light at the end of the tunnel” Kendra Penry the Executive Director of Stokes Nature Center says.

The preschool teachers were relieved and hopeful they would be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine sooner than expected, that was, until they read the fine print that Pre-K schools weren’t included, only K-12.

“All educators are going to be vaccinated… private school… charter school… public school… and then you read the press release and it says kindergarten and up,” Penry said. “A very big disappointment for us - I fully believe that preschool teachers are just valid of educators as kindergarten and up.”

“Gov. Cox set a goal of fully immunizing all health care providers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders, public and tribal health frontline workers, K-12 teachers and school staff, and adults older than 70 by the end of February. Approximately 412,000 Utah residents from these population groups are expected to be vaccinated.” That press release read late last week.

“To then say that preschool teachers are not valid educators by leaving them out of this vaccination effort feels like a missed opportunity.” She says when talking about how hard Utah law makers push for early education like pre-schools to be a part of the state's educational experience.

The Stokes Nature School is a school in Logan that provides an outdoor experience along with a learning classroom environment, something that Penry is passionate about.

While the State of Utah break down COVID-19 data for pre-k but instead puts it together in a category called “Child care.”

As of Wednesday, the data for different children's care facilities according to the CDC website are as follows:

Total Outbreaks: 79
Case Counts: 352
Hospitalizations: 7
Deaths: <5
Male% / Female% 23.9% - 76.1%
Median Age 22.5

Of those the most surprising perhaps is the “median age” statistic since students in these facilities are usually 5 years old or under.

This data meant that mostly adults, including some educators and staff in these facilities are contracting COVID-19.

While staff members and educators are at risk and now are not scheduled to get the vaccine until their age group comes up Penry says “none of them are stopping… they are very dedicated to the children that they work with and the families that they serve.”

But with Pre-K schools being such a small population she asked the question “of why they weren’t included.”

She hasn’t yet gotten an answer and says “I felt like I was hitting a wall trying to get an answer as to why this happened and no one would answer me.”

FOX13 Has reached out to the Utah Department of Health to find an answer on what the reason Pre-K schools were left out of this round of vaccination and while we have had contact with them, we have yet to receive a reason for this.

Ultimately however for Pre-Schools like Kendra Penry’s she says “Theres still time we can fix this the vaccinations have just started rolling out for educators it's a really simple process to tac pre-k in time” Emphasizing “I don’t think its too big of an ask.”

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